Sealand to be England - just for one day
PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 March 2010
ENGLAND'S nearest neighbour today threw its weight behind the country's World Cup campaign - by controversially agreeing to fly the flag of St George.
The tiny principality of Sealand, which sits just seven miles off Felixstowe, proudly displays its own red-white-and-blue flag all year round, but is to hoist the George cross and cheer Sven's boys on against Brazil.
ENGLAND'S nearest neighbour today threw its weight behind the country's World Cup campaign – by controversially agreeing to fly the flag of St George.
The tiny self-styled principality of Sealand, which sits just seven miles off Felixstowe, proudly displays its own red-white-and-blue flag all year round. But it will hoist the George cross and cheer Sven's boys on against Brazil.
With Belgium knocked out and no team of its own to support, its "royal" family has decided to put past differences aside – and side with England.
Prince Michael of Sealand told The Evening Star: "We wouldn't fly the Union Flag at any time, but this is football and we think England are doing fantastic – we want to see them go all the way and win the cup.
"I have just spent £100 on England shirts for my kids so I have no problems at all with putting up the flag of St George.
"We will still fly the Sealand flag, though, because that is never removed."
The self-proclaimed "independent country" – which is visible from Felixstowe's promenade, and looks like two oil drums with a plank across on the horizon – has its own flag, stamps, passport, coins and constitution. But it does not have a football team.
With a surface area of just 932 sq yards, the state would have great difficulty in staging football matches, though it is understood to have looked at expansion and the possibility of a floating pitch on the North Sea alongside.
Many years ago, Prince Michael's father, Prince Roy – known on the British mainland as Roy Bates – looked into the possibility of reclaiming land from the sea to create a holiday island.
Prince Michael revealed that Sealand was keen to have its own team and enter the World Cup at some stage.
"It would be great to have our own team, and I suppose one option would be to play our 'home' matches abroad, if Fifa would agree," he said.
There would be no problems in pulling a side together, even though Sealand has only a few inhabitants at any one time.
Worldwide there are reckoned to be 160,000 Sealand passport-holders, even though Prince Roy says he has only ever issued a handful.
Sealand – a former war-time fort known as Roughs Tower – is also home to an American-based internet company, whose staff are now passport-holders.
It was 35 years ago this month that the Bates family founded the "sovereign state" on the fort. They had intended to use it for pirate radio, but Roy Bates wanted to make his wife Joan, a former beauty queen, a princess.